Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey.
The film begins with images of the 1992 LA riots to give the background to the film. A young teacher, Erin, takes a teaching job at Woodrow Wilson Highschool in Long beach. She is excited until she finds out that her students are not as enthusiastic and most don’t make it to college because of gang violence. The classes at the highschool have been separated into racial groups to prevent any violence. Erin is not given any books because the principle doesn’t trust the students with them. Erin begins to earn the trust of the students by giving each of them a composition notebook to write down their stories in like the author Anne Frank did during the Holocaust. Erin inspires her students through literature and through inviting special guests to talk about the holocaust. She even takes on an extra job to pay for more books and these field trips for her students. She continues to inspire her students but at the same time puts her marriage at risk.
This film is so inspiring. Erin is a prime example of the kind of teachers we need today who are unafraid to step past societal labels and truly believe in their students. I love how Anne Frank’s story was brought to life in a way that anyone watching the film can identify somewhat with her struggles. It’s a moving and powerful film.